FreshBooks president and CEO Mike McDerment muses about the length of his workweek on the FreshBooks blog. Mike says “you need to be refreshed to be effective” and that he feels passionate and productive under his current schedule. Let’s see what Mike’s refreshing and productive schedule […]

FreshBooks president and CEO Mike McDerment muses about the length of his workweek on the FreshBooks blog. Mike says “you need to be refreshed to be effective” and that he feels passionate and productive under his current schedule. Let’s see what Mike’s refreshing and productive schedule looks like:

So how long is my work week these days? I usually get to my desk around 8:00 AM and leave around 7:00 PM. While I sometimes arrive earlier or later, I rarely work past 7:00 PM. I think it is important to have a clear and consistent end to your workday. So, I work about 11 hours per day (55 hours per week). Now, that does not include the .5-1 hour of reading I do (almost always business related) each night (3.5 hours per week). Nor does it include any errands I run after hours (office supplies, sending of documents, etc), nor the inevitable after hours phone call or two (2.5 hours a week there). Every Sunday night I spend about an hour planning my week and frequently (weekends and weeknights) I go for one to two hour walks where I just think about things (4 hours per week). I also spend about 3.5 hours a week on outside projects like mesh.

Then he adds up all those hours to come up with his average weekly hours… and the number’s pretty high!

Mike’s Work Week

55.0 hrs – driving the desk
2.5 hrs – running errands after hours
3.5 hrs – reading and professional development
1.0 hrs – Sunday night prepping my week
4.0 hrs – after hours time dedicated to thinking
3.5 hrs – outside projects
69.5 hrs – THE GRAND TOTAL

Almost 70 hours! But I bet more than a few web workers put in 60 or 70 hour weeks in pursuit of work they love and a paycheck that makes it all worthwhile.

How many hours do you work a week? How does it break down between desk work and thinking work, weekday work and weekend work? Have you found a balance that keeps you passionate and productive?

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  1. This podcast from HBR on “Extreme Jobs” is an interesting touch point to this. It’s nice because the authors seem very balanced in their assessment of working 60+ hours a week: short term it’s great, but long term people start looking for new jobs…or, at least, they say they’ll be looking for new jobs.

  2. And to answer you question: I probably spend 45-50 hours depending on how much you count reading related books and travel.

    I think some people in the tech world are somewhat immune from answering the question “how many hours a week do you work” because they’d be doing the same sorts of things if they weren’t working. This is esp. muddled when it comes to blogging.

    The better phrasing of the question might be: “how many hours that your paid for vs. not paid for do you work a week?”

  3. It’s very easy for me to slip into working 50-60 hours a week. I have to constantly fight this tendency to keep balance between my personal life and work. I find that by tracking my time in a work log (subject of a previous post on WWD a while back), I better stay on top of things.

    There will always be big milestones, critical events, and such that take me way up into the work hour stratosphere. But for most weeks, I strive to get my work done in 40 or so.

    Somebody famous once said: “Nobody ever says ‘I didn’t spend enough time working’ on their death bed.” I love what I do professionally, but I want to say “Thank goodness I made time for family and fun” when my time comes.

  4. If this is what Mike likes, great. I think he sounds like a real loser, but its nice that wasting ones life on work appeals to some.

  5. Wilde… I would be more inclined to say Mike sounds like a driven person, who finds purpose in what he is doing, and has found ways to balance and enjoy…E.g. the walks, the reading, etc… So I ask.. Please define your use of the term loser… I think the WWD community would love to hear what it is you think makes Mike a loser.
    Mike… kudos on Freshbooks.. and I have now discovered another blog I will be returning to. Keep us posted on the branding ideas.

  6. Currently I’m at 45 in the office for my day job, with an occasional late day or hopping online to support something from home… I get in at 8, work straight through the day, and try to consistently leave at 5:00.

    Then anywhere from 1-5 hours many evenings on a freelance project, 4-10 more on the weekends…

    That’s potentially 60 hours a week, and can be more. Plus 1.5 hours each day commuting that’s not on the clock. If I get to go Web Worker, as I hope to in 07, working freelance, I’d like to stick to 4 10-hour days honestly. Though it’ll more likely be 40-50 hours dispersed throughout the 7-day week, with more flexibility to break for personal/family life throughout those days.

  7. Thats quite an impressive figure, the way he is balancing his time and schedule is great. I wish i could also do the same, at present i work 8hrs a day so its 48hrs in total and at times when you are doing late night..max to max 50hrs. Bad. I love spending time outside work on saturday evenings & sundays.

  8. Working Hours

  9. I have always had a difficult time understanding how anyone can work more than 10 hours at a time. These people like Marissa Mayer that talk about 16 hour days and minimal sleep are nuts or must think they’re really important. Diminishing return applies to the amount of time one works and it has to be a rather steep drop off after the peak is reached. Steep because you aren’t only effecting yourself but you’re impacting others too. The probablity of you making a mistake or a poor decision in haste while you’re in that downslope on th DR graph is greater than someone who never hits that peak so while you may think you’re the busiest person on the planet and everything needs your attention right away, chances are you’re wrong.

    On top of that, in my 14 years at startups my experience is that 75% of the time in the office is spent bs’ing and surfing the net. I’m not just referring to Sales and Marketing either but also to engineering, ops, finance, etc. As an example take into account digg.com. Their userbase is pretty engineering centric based on their said demographics. All day long those users are digging stories and chatting on the msg boards. Surely this all can’t be directly related to their respective jobs which is just one example of how some people might consider being at work the same thing as working.

    Trying to tally how many hours someone works a guess at best because there is no real and universal definition of what work actually means. I can get the things I need to be done to be succesful as defined by my set objectives and goals in 30mins to an hour on most days. That 30-60mins is spread over the course of the entire day so I may only work, as I define to be doing the things I need to do to accomplish my objectives, 4 mins here 20mins there, 10 mins here and 12 mins there over the course of the day. I know I’m not alone because I see the same thing happening all over the valley in my own company and the ones i work with. unless it is actual physical labor, how can you measure work? if you’re in sales and you make 200% of your quota in the first month of the year do you still need to go to the office everyday? Technically you may but the reality is you don’t, at least in my experience. If you are an engineer and you write a script that takes 90% of your coding and automates it, do you still have to be at work for 100% of the day or does being there for 10% suffice? Not that being there means you’re working but you get the point.

    IMHO, people shouldn’t be judged on how much they work but on how less they work relative to their achievments. The fact of the matter is that as an employer you should want to hire and keep the most efficient employees you have because they are the people that, due to some innate characteristic can be relied upon to, when given a task, finish it sooner than you thought for cheaper than you budgeted and perhaps even run more efficiently than originally planned.

    My point is that we shouldn’t confuse productivity with work because they are apples and oranges.

  10. I worked 80-90 hours as a banker before quitting and starting my own business. Now it’s more like 60-70 hours with a breakdown similar to Mike McDerment’s. And it’s hard to account for those hours on weekends when my mind is all about my business. When I worked as a banker, I could totally separate work from play, but with being my own boss, there’s hardly a minute that a thought about the business doesn’t somehow seep in.

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